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Sámi Education

Pigga Keskitalo, Kaarina Määttä and Satu Uusiautti

This book is a pioneering work. It discusses special characteristics of the education of Sámi people, an indigenous people living in Northern Europe. The book provides a comprehensive study of indigenous school research and special features of Sámi education including problems and opportunities that teachers and pupils confront daily. The purpose of this book is to support the realization of indigenous peoples’ education based on their own cultural premises. New, reformative pedagogical models and culturally sensitive teaching arrangements that could enhance Sámi education are the focus of the book. It is aimed at everyone who is interested in indigenous peoples’ educational conditions and is based on the authors’ research cooperation in the field of Sámi education.


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A Glance at the Roots of Sámi Education


The Sámi as Indigenous People Sápmi means the geographical area populated traditionally by the Sámi people. The Sámi live in four countries: in Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Ko- la Peninsula in Russia. Altogether, there are about 100,000 Sámi people in these countries. About 40,000 of them can speak the Sámi languages. The Sámi peo- ple form a nationality that does not have a nation or nation borders but a com- mon based language, culture, and history (Smith, 2006). The Sámi language be- longs to Finno-Ugrian languages. Nine Sámi languages are left in Nordic coun- tries and Russia, and all of them are endangered (Magga & Skutnabb-Kangas, 2001) partly as there has been going on an assimilation process for centuries. The Sámi are descendants of the people who first inhabited the northern Fennoscandinavia shortly after the end of the last ice age, approximately 10 000 years ago. Historically, the Sámi have been divided by livelihood and region into reindeer herders, fishermen, and forest Sámi (Halinen, 2011). The Sámi so- ciety was to face increasingly drastic changes caused by outsiders from the 16th century onward. The Nordic countries started to take control of the land of the Sámi by religious conversion, supporting settlement and replacing the Sámi ad- ministration with an external administrative system. Due to the western settle- ment in the Nordic countries, the Sámi became a minority in most of their tradi-...

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